Liverpool are under mounting pressure to kick out Luis Suarez after he bit Branislav Ivanovic in his side’s 2-2 draw against Chelsea.
Though Suarez used his Twitter account to apologise for the extraordinary incident and also issued a statement on the Liverpool website, he is fighting to save his Anfield career after manager Brendan Rodgers said ‘all players can be replaced’.
Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre cancelled a trip to Australia and the Far East to deal with an incident that has been condemned globally.
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Bite: Millions of fans around the world watched on TV as controversial Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, 26, sank his teeth into the arm of Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic during the clubs' 2-2 draw
LUIS SUAREZ STATEMENT
'I am deeply sorry for my inexcusable behaviour earlier today during our match against Chelsea.
'I have issued an apology and have tried to contact Branislav Ivanović to speak to him personally. I apologise also to my manager, playing colleagues and everyone at Liverpool Football Club for letting them down.'
Then on Twitter: 'I've just spoken to Ivanovic on the phone and I could apologise directly to him. Thanks for accepting.'
Ayre said: ‘Luis has made an unreserved apology for his actions. His behaviour is not befitting of any player wearing a Liverpool shirt and Luis is aware he has let himself and everyone associated with the club down. We will deal with the matter internally and await any action from the FA.’
Suarez has a history of shocking behaviour and was banned for seven matches in November 2011 after he bit PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal when playing for Ajax.
He was dubbed ‘the Cannibal of Ajax’ by Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.
Suarez said last night: I am deeply sorry for my inexcusable behaviour earlier today during our match against Chelsea. I have issued an apology and have tried to contact Branislav Ivanovic to speak to him personally. I apologise also to my manager, playing colleagues and everyone at Liverpool Football Club for letting them down.’.
Preparing to lunge: Suarez grabs Ivanovic's arm before appearing to bite it during yesterday's match
'Luis has made an unreserved apology for his actions. His behaviour is not befitting of any player wearing a Liverpool shirt and Luis is aware that he has let himself and everyone associated with the club down. We will deal with the matter internally and await any action from the FA.'
While Suarez said in an interview on Sunday he wanted to see out his four-year contract at Anfield, it looks increasingly likely he will be offloaded in the summer. Bayern Munich have been strongly linked with him.
Rodgers, who initially refused to comment on the situation, said in a statement: ‘Having reviewed the video footage and spoken to Luis, his behaviour is unacceptable and I have made him aware of this.’
The incident, which will be studied by the FA, overshadowed an intriguing game and marred an emotional return to Anfield for interim Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez. He refused to comment about the bite.
Former Liverpool manager Graeme Souness, working on Sky with Sportsmail’s Jamie Redknapp, was more forthright, and called the episode embarrassing.
BRENDAN RODGERS STATEMENT
'Having reviewed the video footage and spoken to Luis, his behaviour is unacceptable and I have made him aware of this.'
‘A club’s board of directors’ job is to attract and get the best players and keep them at the club.
'He is making it very difficult for himself to stay at Liverpool. I believe that puts him in the last-chance saloon. More important than any of that is to safeguard the good name of the club.
Confrontation: The Chelsea star made no secret of his unhappiness over the incident with the Liverpool man
‘It is up there with Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United.
'People will be talking about this for a long, long time and it’s going to show Liverpool in a very bad light — especially in this week of all weeks, the anniversary of Hillsborough.
'If you look at Suarez’s track record, this is not the first time he has bitten someone in a football match. It can’t happen again.
'I firmly believe this puts him in the last chance saloon as a Liverpool player - the board have to see it that way because they're risking everything this great football club stands for.'
Suarez is a contender for PFA Player of the Year but their chief executive, Gordon Taylor, said: ‘It was not good to see, to say the least. It was unacceptable.
'It’s such a shame for a player who’s a really good footballer but this is not the first time such things have happened.’
Crazy: The Chelsea defender appeared to have done very little to provoke Suarez before the incident yesterday
Rivals: Chelsea were seconds from an impressive win at Anfield before Suarez scored a very late equaliser
In addition to threatening to undermine what has been a promising season for Liverpool, Suarez makes his case to win the PFA Footballer of the Year, for which he is nominated, even more difficult with every instant of his reckless behaviour.
Suarez had already played a big role in giving Chelsea the lead with a blatant handball that led to Eden Hazard's 57th minute penalty. The controversial incident then came within the next 10 minutes.
Earlier this season, Suarez appeared to handle the winning goal in the FA Cup against minnows Mansfield.
He also admitted to diving against Stoke CIty.
Look, ref: Ivanovic shows his arm to referee Kevin Friend following the biting incident at Anfield yesterday
Stunned: The Chelsea defender didn't seem to know how to react after he was bitten by Suarez yesterday
Last season, he was given an eight-match ban after being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra.
And at the 2010 World Cup, he was famously sent off after blatantly using his hands to prevent an important goal for Ghana against Uruguay in the tournament's quarter-finals.
Liverpool boss Rodgers insisted he would have to review the incident before commenting, but added that no individual was bigger than the club. He said : 'I'll go away and review it and then comment later. I'll make an honest appraisal on it and comment afterwards. It's not for me to make any rash comments or predictions now.
'This is a club with incredible values and ethics here. We'll review it as a club, because there's certainly no one bigger than this football club, a player or manager.
'As football managers and staff and players, we're representing this club, off the field and in particular on the field.
'But it's not the time to comment on it now.'
Present and past: Brendan Rodgers and Rafa Benitez shared the same Anfield touchline during the game
He added: 'I'll always speak openly and honestly about the players and protect them when I can, but with all due respect I'll make an honest appraisal of it [first].
'I'll always defend people if I think they're right - if I think they're wrong I'll tell them, and that's already happened with Luis this year. And then we move on from it. If that's what the case is, they've got to accept the consequences accordingly.
'It's disappointing that we're not talking about the football, because the character and personality we showed in the game was absolutely fantastic.
'We'll go away and speak to them (owners Fenway Sports Group) afterwards and take it from there.
'This is a club with incredible values and ethics here. As footballers, managers and staff we are representing this great club on and off the field.
'I will always speak openly and honestly about the players and protect them when I can and if I think they are wrong I will tell them - as I have already this season with Luis (when the striker admitted to diving).
'People have to accept it when they do wrong if that's what the case is. They have to accept the consequences accordingly. It's disappointing that we are not talking about the football.'
Out of nowhere: The incident happened after Suarez had already handballed just 10 minutes earlier
Chelsea manager and former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez said: 'I thought it was an emotional return,' said the Spaniard, whose name was frequently chanted by fans who remember him fondly for the 2005 Champions League triumph.
'I was pleased with the reception of the fans and disappointed with the late goal conceded - especially as I couldn't understand why there were six minutes and 45 seconds (added on).
'It is a strange decision. Some games you have six substitutions and they say three or four minutes but six minutes (had expired) and with a throw-in for us the game was over.
'But six minutes and 45 seconds is difficult to explain. We need to analyse why we didn't stop the cross and they scored but in the normal circumstances we would have finished the game.
World Cup 2010: Cynically preventing a Ghana goal
Handball: Suarez's goal against Mansfield
'I didn't see the incident that people are asking me about. I have not spoken to the players (about Suarez). We were talking about the late goal - it is very frustrating. 'We have plenty of time in the week to speak about it.'
The forward was last seen getting escorted out of the ground by a club steward with a Chelsea shirt in his hand.
Souness added: 'Liverpool are not blessed with world-class footballers at this time, and he is genuinely a world-class player, but he's making it very difficult for them to hold on to him.
'I've never seen anything like that in a football match before. That's what children do when they are in the pram, they bite things if they are not happy with it.
'He must be on the borderline of doing something mad, crazy every time he goes out there if he is capable of that.'
Pain: Ivanovic could not believe what had happened as he sat on the ground for a moment after the bite
'It is not for me to make any rash comments or any predictions now,' he added. 'This is a football club where historically players treat people with how the football club respects society, players and everyone.
'There is certainly no-one bigger than this football club, as a player or a manager.
'Players are always replaceable no matter how good they think they are. That is how football works.
Previous: Suarez bites Otman Bakkal of PSV while playing for Ajax
Repeat? The PSV star was as perplexed as Ivanovic by Suarez's behaviour
'Of course there are wonderful talents here we've seen at this club and others over many years.
'You lose a player you think you can't replace but the next one comes along.
'The standards at this football club have been met for many years and that's why it is the worldwide institution that it is.
'The history of this club is about respect and how people are treated and that is something that will always be maintained here and will always be long after I am gone.'
Talisman: Alongside Steven Gerrard, Suarez is considered Liverpool's key player
Former Liverpool midfielder Redknapp said what Suarez did was 'indefensible'.
He told Sky Sports 1 'He got a seven-game ban at Ajax for doing the same thing. He obviously has a real problem.
'There is that madness-genius gene in him because as a player, you hold your hands up - he's exceptional with people talking about him being player of the year, but what he did today, is indefensible.
'Even the staunchest Liverpool supporters cannot look at that and think that's alright.
'You can't defend that and anyone who tries to is completely wrong, because the club is bigger than any player who has been on the football field.
97th minute: Suarez's equaliser couldn't have come much later in the game to get Liverpool a 2-2 draw
'What's he doing? Why on earth would you want to take a chunk out of someone's arm when you are on a football field?
'That is an absolutely incredible act of brutality. It's madness.'
Redknapp also believes Suarez should face a sizeable suspension.
He said: 'I'd be surprised if he plays again this season. What message does will that send if he doesn't get a two or three-game ban.
'He's letting the club down.'
Key: Chelsea will be aggrieved that Suarez was still on the pitch when he scored late on in yesterday's game
Regarding the Uruguayan's long-term future at Anfield, Redknapp said: 'He's giving the owners a problem.
'It's such a shame because he's playing for such a great football club. How many more chances are you going to give him?
'I wouldn't be surprised if he's still here (next season). I wouldn't think that's the end of him at Liverpool football club.
'It's not the first time now but footballers are valuable commodities, they certainly aren't going to sack him for that, the only thing maybe is they will sell him in the summer as they think it's one time too many now.'
Concern: Suarez didn't look particularly happy on his departure from Anfield, accompanied by a steward
Souvenir? But he did have a Chelsea shirt to mark the day, after helping his side to a dramatic 2-2 draw
Liverpool forward Luis Suarez is back in the spotlight after appearing to bite Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic on the arm during the 2-2 draw with Chelsea at Anfield, going on to score a late equaliser.
Here are some of the previous controversies surrounding the Uruguayan forward.
February 2007: Suarez made his international debut for Uruguay against Colombia but was sent off in the final minutes after being shown a second yellow card for dissent.
November 2007: Joined Ajax from Uruguayan side Nacional but he was later suspended by the Dutch giants after a half-time dressing-room altercation with team-mate Albert Luque.
July 2010: During the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals, Suarez prevented Ghana's Dominic Adiyiah from scoring in the final minute with a deliberate handball on the line and was subsequently sent off. A penalty was awarded but missed by Asamoah Gyan and footage showed Suarez celebrating on the sidelines. Uruguay eventually went through to the last four on penalties.
November 2010: Suarez was handed a seven-match ban by the Dutch FA and fined by his club for biting PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal during an Eredivisie match.
October 2011: Following his move to Liverpool in January 2011, he was involved in a tackle with Everton's Jack Rodwell and goes down with apparent minimal contact. Rodwell was then sent off.
October 2011: Suarez was alleged to have racially abused Manchester United's Patrice Evra during a Premier League match. Suarez was later found guilty by an independent regulatory commission and banned for eight matches and fined £40,000.
December 2011: Was seen making an offensive gesture towards Fulham fans. At this time he had already been charged by the Football Association over the racism incident, although not yet punished, but was handed a further one-match ban for the gesture.
February 2012: United and Liverpool met again at Old Trafford, but more controversy blew up as Suarez refused to shake Evra's hand before kick-off.
October 2012: Celebrated a goal against Everton by diving in front of Toffees boss David Moyes who had earlier claimed that "divers" such as Suarez were putting fans off the English game.
January 2013: Handles the ball prior to scoring Liverpool's winner in the FA Cup third round tie at Mansfield.
April 2013: Appears to bite Branislav Ivanovic on the arm but escapes punishment on the pitch as the referee fails to see it, and scores Liverpool's equaliser seven minutes into stoppage time as they draw 2-2 with Chelsea at Anfield.